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Review: Eight Years in the Making, Ugly Arrive Unique and Fully Formed on Debut EP ‘Twice Around The Sun’

Crafted from their ever changing surroundings, substantial friendship and eight years of preparation, it’s finally time for Ugly to share their debut EP, ‘Twice Around The Sun’.

With the first single for this project coming out close to two years ago, It’s fair to say Ugly have kept us in suspense for quite some time for their debut EP. Originally forming in Cambridge eight years ago as moody guitar fronted band with heavy influences of King Krule and a different lineup, Ugly developed their sound with richer instrumentation and a much larger pool of musical influence –  ranging from multi-act long form tracks in the vain of Black Country, New Road, the eclectic riffs and lyricism of 80s alternative rock of Pennsylvania band, Ween and most notably the newly focused choral and vocal elements which give Ugly a very individualistic sound all the while being heaps of fun and immensely satisfying.

Ugly inside Issue Forty-Eight of So Young Magazine. Order your copy here.

Ugly kick things off with ‘The Wheel’ where all members of the band serenade us with an impressively technical vocal cannon, leading us through multiple guitar builds over multiple acts. The band have admitted that their goal was to create an eerie, cult-like soundscape in this track and they’ve achieved that within a very solid folk-rock track.

‘The Wheel’ is followed by ‘Sha’, the shortest track in the collection coming at just over 3 minutes. The 80’s influence here is very clear, with an aquatic synth and a jangly guitar riff all layered underneath the catchiest of choruses which implements the use of traditional buddhist chants.

‘Icy Windy Sky’ sees Ugly play with vocal imitation as they progress us through another haunting track. The guitar break here is full of energy – mainly fuelled by the five and a half minute build up. Your patience is easily paid off as the guitar rips through the instrumental making it the highlight of the track of the EP.

‘Shepherd’s Carol’ is built atop of a scaled plucky guitar riff with a grounding bass keeping the piece tied together. The band once more all come together to sing in unison on this track giving it a pastoral feel and a large sense of togetherness. On the flip side, the final two tracks are led almost entirely by Samuel Goater who’s narrative driven vocals bring immense character and are truly outstanding.

The bridge on penultimate track,  ‘Hands Of Man’ see’s Goater almost completely solo as he delivers the most emotional lines of the project; it feels raw and is reminiscent of Ugly’s old days where Goater was the loan writer. The band all come together in harmony for a triumphant finish.

Finally, ‘I’m Happy You’re Here’ the oldest song in the EP still feels as fresh as ever. ‘I’m Happy You’re Here’ is Ugly at their very best and although is the oldest track, feels like the perfect culmination of all the positive elements of ‘Twice Around The Sun’. From its slow build, to the grand second half, and to the spirited saxophone, the closer is perfect for bringing the EP together.

With a whole new set of material played on tour with Lime Garden, it’s clear that Ugly’s train of creativity does not show any signs of halting. With a UK headline tour fast approaching, along with a number of festival dates over the summer, if you get the opportunity I strongly encourage you to catch Ugly live. You will certainly not be disappointed.

‘Twice Around The Sun’ is available to order on 12″ Vinyl here.

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